Suicidal Saucies vs. Nickel City Knockouts
QCRG’s January 5th season opener between the Suicidal Saucies and the Nickel City Knockouts had new rules and old rivalries; veteran skaters and newly minted draftees; new faces in stripes and pink as well as familiar voices on the microphone. And, of course, there was some hard-hitting, fast-moving roller derby.
The last time the Saucies and Knockouts met on the track was during last year’s QCRG Playoffs. In that game, the #4 seed Saucies battled hard in the first period coming back from a significant deficit to within one point at the half. The #1 seed Knockouts pulled out the win and went on to beat the Devil Dollies to win the 2012 QCRG Cup.
This year, both teams have returning skaters who have taken a few years off: Alley Oops (#42) for the Saucies and Little Orphan Angry (#92) for the Knockouts. Also, both teams picked up three new skaters in the draft. The Knockouts picked up Super Mighty (#939), Bear Lea Legal (#320) and LiBRAWLian (#622). The Saucies grabbed Miss Fire (#252), Violent Femme (#440), and Arti Choker (#74). This leaves both teams with a solid veteran core of skaters as well.
And then, of course, you have that underlying sibling rivalry that gives Mama Chops indigestion. Lamp Chop (#71) captains the Knockouts and her brother, Señor Wiener, coaches the Saucies when he’s not refereeing travel bouts. (No, that’s not favoritism – Mama Wiener just sounds weird.)
The bout started off tight. In the first jam, the Saucies’ jammer Bella Stilleto (#111) and Knockout’s jammer Abercrombie & Fists (#99) battled their way through the pack as it traveled twice around the track before Fisty finally broke through for lead. She grabbed five points and called it. This showed, right from the start, how important defense would be against some pretty amazing jammers.
Early in the first period, on the line against the Saucies’ Nova Cain (#333), BRAWL bumped Nova out of bounds after the whistle and skated backwards around the pack all the way to the apex between turn 1 and turn 2. It took a second for Nova to realize what was going on and she ended up cutting through center field to get behind BRAWL. As soon as she did, BRAWL sprinted forward, and leaped through the pack for lead. The exuberance didn’t last long because then she headed to the penalty box. Nova had her revenge and grabbed 15 points giving the Saucies the lead early in the game.
But it didn’t last long enough for the Saucies. The Knockouts kept the Saucies apart and unorganized and the Saucies began to visit the penalty box with unfortunate regularity. Although penalties rocked both teams, some stinging more than others, the Knockouts maintained control over the game and managed to keep the Saucies from putting out a regular, coordinated defense. When the Saucies were able to maintain a strong wall, their jammers were unable to contend with the strong force of KO blockers that were typically anchored by Ivana LeiHerOut (#240), Chops or Midnyt Maniac (#46). Once the Knockouts began to pull further ahead, it was just harder for the Saucies to catch up.
At the half the Knockouts had a commanding lead: 153-65.
“We were really excited for this bout,” said Alli Snatcher, the Saucies’ captain. “We knew it would be a tough game but we have been working very hard and felt very ready to play.”
On one of BRAWL’s power jams in the second half, she scored 35 points. Unfortunately, it seemed like the excitement overwhelmed the Knockouts’ bench and they forgot to field a jammer for the next jam. When the Saucies’ jammer was sent to the box, the jam was whistled dead. No jammer, no jam.
Penalties were an important factor for both teams. At times it seemed like there was a revolving door at the box and both teams cycled in and out of it. The Knockouts were just able to take better advantage of their power jams than the Saucies. The Saucies played a strategic game and it was clear that they had worked hard to learn, as well as counter, these strategies. They just needed more teamwork to pull them off in a coordinated fashion.
The new rules didn’t seem to change the game all that much except for the beginning of each jam. These days there is one whistle which starts the jammers and blockers at the same time. Much of the time the action starts right at the jammer line in front of the jammers. Occasionally the blockers spread out or moved to the pivot line. Teams are still trying to determine which position gives the better advantage.
Though the changes are otherwise small, there is always a learning curve to get used to the new way of doing things. Knockouts’ blocker (and occasional jammer) Midnyt fouled out of the game midway through the second period. Under the old rule set, a player who fouled out of the game had to leave the track and go to her locker room and was unable to watch the rest of the game. The new rule allows a player to remain and watch, but they must remove themselves from the bench. However, there was some confusion and Midnyt remained on the bench. This resulted in the next jam being whistled dead by the officials and she was given a further penalty and ejected (which meant she now had to go to the locker room) and the KO Captain Lamb Chop had to serve her penalty.
In the end, it was the Knockout power jams that paved the way for their win.
Final score was Knockouts 329 Saucies 137.
“We have played several away games over the off-season and feel that really has helped us remain at our top form,” said Lamb Chop, the Knockout’s captain. “The Saucies made us work hard for every single point.”
Lake Effect Furies vs. Black-N-Bluegrass Rollergirls
In that first bout, Ivana LeiHerOut (#240) and Head Huntress (#54) fought tooth and nail against each other. Both are blockers that anchor lines for their home teams (Knockouts and Saucies, respectively) but immediately after the home team bout they went to the Furies locker room, changed into their Lake Effect Furies uniforms and came out to make impenetrable walls together. Then you had B’kini Whacks (#21) and LiBRAWLian (#622) who play for the Saucies and the Knockouts, respectively, lined up as opposing jammers in the first bout. They looked at each other on the line and B’kini said: “I can’t wait until we get to play together.”
And play together they all did. The team showed Western New York and the fans of QCRG how much they’ve learned in the last year, most importantly, how to play cohesively and calmly.
Ruby Revenge (#10) and Abercrombie & Fists (#99) played both games as Knockouts and Furies, and were a force in both matchups as well.
It’s been over a year since the Lake Effect Furies have played at home. In that time, the team traveled, and played, hard and fast, in 15 bouts. At the end of those bouts they sat at 13th in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Eastern Region rankings.
On Saturday they rolled out at the Rainbow Rink to play against Latonia, Kentucky’s Black-N-Bluegrass Rollergirls who traveled over 400 miles to North Tonawanda to play some roller derby. BBRG is a relatively new WFTDA league and have only played 8 sanctioned games since May 2012. Currently they are ranked 27thin the North Central Region according to WFTDA.
Although the score certainly reflected the difference in rankings between the teams, at times, the fight on the track showed a much closer match.
BBRG only brought 10 skaters and didn’t have any coaching staff. They had driven over 7 hours to get here and skated at 9 p.m. at night. That’s a tall order for any group of skaters.
The first jam of the night was an unusual one. It ended at a tie, 0-0, as both teams battled for and showed their control of the pack. The next jam was more typical of what we saw much of the bout. DayTripHer (#711) grabbed lead for the Furies and the BBRG regular jammer Emolition (#67) headed to the penalty box. That’s not to say that BBRG spent every jam in the penalty box but it was not an uncommon occurrence for their jammer to head that way. They took a total of 12 jammer penalty minutes in the entire bout, giving the Furies 12 power jams to take full advantage of. This allows one team to focus solely on offense and do what they can to get their jammer through the pack as often as possible – in the case of the Furies, this meant a whole lot.
The BBRG rotated between two jammers during the first period: Emolition and Neva Shakeababy (#241) both formidable skaters. Unfortunately, in addition to the jammer penalty minutes, their blockers took a large number of trips to the box. All in all, the BBRG had 15 more penalties than the Furies. It cost them, big time.
The Furies were not immune to the penalty box, with several blockers heading that way during the first period. They simply were able to work with what they had better. At one point, early in the first period the Furies had an overflowing penalty box (2 blockers sitting and 1 standing) and only one blocker on the track. BRAWL stepped to the jammer line with the star and immediately at the whistle jumped up to block the BBRG jammer. Brawl hesitated for just a few seconds to help hold the jammer and then burst through the BBRG pack to earn lead jam.
In the first half BNB’s Neva Shakeababy connected solidly on a power jam and racked up 25 points in a single jam. It was almost half of the entire points scored by the BBRG at that point, bringing the score to 136-53 in favor of the Furies. For a minute, it seemed like the tables might be turning and the BBRG tried to capitalize on the momentum. But in the next jam with the BBRG down two blockers, LiBRAWLian made up for her box minute and scored 34 points.
At the half the score was Lake Effect Furies 196 Black N Bluegrass 57.
The Furies didn’t let up during the second period. Rankings are dependent on the number of points scored as well as wins. There is no mercy in derby. The more points you score the bigger the improvement to your ranking. Conversely, you can lose a game but if you score enough points it can improve your rankings. And so once the Furies turned on the heat, they couldn’t let it go.
The journey and the short bench began to wear on the BBRG skaters. They were noticeably fatigued by mid-way through the second period. And tired skaters make more mistakes, evidenced by the 29 penalty minutes earned in the second period alone.
The Furies were able to thoroughly capitalize on the power jams and pack advantages they had. During five of those jams BRAWL scored 28, 30, 33, 34 and 40 points. Day had 14 and 18 point jams, B’kini had 17, 19 and 30 point jams and Low-Hits had a 19 point jam. In one of BRAWL’s more spectacular jams of the evening, she leaped the apex between turns 1 and 2 on her way to scoring 33 points. Even the blocker she bypassed couldn’t help but applaud her efforts.
The Furies gave up 8 power jams but, with the exception of the one 25 point jam in the first half, the Furies blockers were able to limit the damage done by BBRG jammers.
By the end of the evening the Furies put up 395 points to BBRG’s 92 points.
The Furies’ next home bout will be on January 26th against the Rideau Valley Vixens. This Canadian team gave the Furies a tough loss over the summer at a tournament in Rochester. The Furies are ready for the rematch. Also playing on January 26th, the Devil Dollies and the Alley Kats will take to the track in a reprise of their 2012 playoff game. Go to https://www.qcrg.net/featured/doubleheader-dollies-vs-kats-furies-vs-rideau-valley/ to order your tickets now.